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A man who targeted a 90-year-old woman at Pontypridd and stole her purse has been jailed, following a British Transport Police (BTP) investigation.

Mark Leigh, 54, and of Bridge street, Troedyrhiw, was sentenced to four months in prison after being found guilty of theft at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates’ Court on 2 July.

He was also handed a Criminal Behaviour Order for two years, which includes conditions not to enter Pontypridd, and was fined £201.

The court heard how Leigh approached the victim in Pontypridd town centre at around 5pm on 28 May. Leigh struck up a conversation with the woman and began to follow her towards Pontypridd railway station, causing her to feel uncomfortable.

Upon entering Pontypridd station, Leigh questioned the woman about why she was using the lift. The woman explained that she was using a walker to help with her mobility and to carry her belongings. Leigh lifted her walker and insisted on carrying it for her, forcing her to take the stairs as she didn’t want to leave him with her belongings.

Leigh positioned himself in front, obstructing the woman’s view of her walker. As the woman reached the top of the stairs, Leigh had vanished, and the walker was left behind.

While on the train home, the woman became aware that her purse was missing. She recalled last seeing her purse on attending the station and knew that nobody apart from herself and Leigh had been near it.

The contents of the purse were valued at around £80. It also included irreplaceable family photos and her bus pass, which she relied upon to get around.

After reviewing CCTV, officers were able to identify Leigh, and he was subsequently arrested on 3 June.

BTP Investigating Officer Beth James said: “This was a determined and brazen theft, which understandably left the victim feeling really upset and shaken up.

“This sentence demonstrates just how seriously the courts take these types of incidents, and I hope this sentence will give the individual plenty of time to reflect on his actions.

“We are committed to tackling all forms of theft and proactively monitor the network 24/7 to make the railway a difficult place for these criminals to operate.

“If you spot any suspicious activity on the railway, please report it to BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40. In an emergency always call 999.”

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